People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking Kennesaw State University to discontinue the use of its live owl mascot.
KSU’s mascot, Sturgis, is a Eurasian eagle owl named for the institution’s first president, Horace Sturgis. The college began using the live mascot last fall.
PETA says loud, raucous sporting events are unsuitable environments for live birds and can cause the animals to become disoriented and seriously injured. The animal advocacy organization has posted an action alert on its website asking visitors to urge the school to replace the live owl with a costumed mascot.
School officials say they are committed to Sturgis’ safety and well-being and have a professional trainer and bird handler who works with the animal every day.
“It is not, and never was, our intent to use Sturgis solely for entertainment purposes,” Vaughn Williams, KSU’s athletic director, said in a statement that was released in response to PETA’s initial complaints last year. “… KSU will use Sturgis’ presence and association as a source of education and motivation for the children and adults who will delight in seeing him.”